Saturday, February 11, 2006

Mandalay (Myanmar) 4 Feb - 10 Feb 2006

Hotel: Pacific Hotel

Upon leaving Yangon, we hop onto Mandalay air and scoot off to...well...Mandalay.  This is actually the first time I sat on a plane with propellers still functioning well.  As I sat very near the wings, the noise and vibration was almost driving me nuts!  Nope, its nothing like those Osim massage chair. 
Upon arrival at the Mandalay airport, we were greeted by our translator and the mini van which will also be our transport for the next few days. Alright, I have to agree that we were rather impressed with the fully aircon airport.  I mean, compared to the Yangon one...this is definitely better. 
Beautiful sunset greeted us on our way to the hotel.   As none of us (other than the driver and our translator) has been to Mandalay, everything we saw was an eye opener.  We also realised that both Yangon and Mandalay are so different!!
Didn't quite like the rooms we were booked into and the sheets didn't look too clean.  The bed is really hard too.  The room is one of the dimmest I have ever come across in my entire history of hotel stay.  I mean, even the cheapest I have stayed in isn't this dim.  We, of course, requested to be changed to another block which, surprisingly, is very very different.  Instead of carpeted floor.  The other room has tiled floor.  But of quieter (not many people were housed in that block), rooms are bigger and definitely alot brighter.  Sorry, I forgot to take picture of that room we moved into.
The church we were attached to in Mandalay was Paradise Mission Center.  They have their own Bible School.  It was their 8 yrs anniversary and I would say it was a total honor to be there.  More importantly, the long-gyi I bought from aung san bogyoke market (Yangon) came into good use!  I can be part of those girls representing the bamar tribe (although I always tell that locals that I suspect I'm from the chin  Well, I did manage to learn one chin song)!  Yeah!!  The 8 major tribes of Myanmar was represented on the stage (not in order of the pics): kachin, kayah, karen, chin, bamar, mon, rakhine and shan.  After the event, our host wanted to bring us out for dinner.  We, naturally, requested for local food in a store that a local would go.  I love the nga-pya sauce (fish sauce) to the max so much so that I started dipping everything in it! 
Seminar day begins with praise and worship.  Check out the cool guitarist and bassist!!  The guy on the keyboard (he has a very difficult to pronounce name so I cant really remember his name) is the Youth Pastor.  His multi-purpose keyboard is actually the drums, the violin, the saxaphone...etc.  All these sounds were performed when he was still playing the P&W songs!  He just amazes me so much!
After praise and worship, we were broken into different groups and seminars goes underway. I took the youth and worship segment.  You cannot imagine how keen these people are.  Especially when they have trainers from Australia and Singapore. Their eyes were stuck on us.  Luckily, I don't have stage fright and have conducted classes before. I pity those with stage frights. I had so much fun playing the Camera-roll-action game with them.  Just gave them a scene and they have to act out.  Points will only be allocated at the point they freeze.  It was a good exchange of culture.
Found these dolls loitering around.  Aren't they just the cutest?  The yellowy power on the handsome boy's face is actually the thanaka power.  And oh, the little angel in white dress below...her name is Din Din Mo.  I can still remember.
While the seminars are underway, the bible school students are busy preparing our lunch.  We understand that not every one can afford to have a good meal especially after spending on transport to our seminars, so we chip in and paid for all their food for the few days.  There were about 1,200 pax.
We closed the few days seminar with prayers and lots of photo takings.  I was presented with a set of long-gyi handmade by a members wife.  She took one look at our body from a far and made us fitting long-gyi so we were quite taken aback that the costume fits to well.  She didn't take any measurements.  The other gifts the girls got was a jade bangle.  Can't say that it's the best jade but it's the thought that counts.  The guys got a framed picture made with semi precious stones like ruby, sapphire, jade...etc.  The craftmanship was very skillful.
After the few days of seminars, everyone was tired.  But Pastor Victor got a massage by their Youth Pastor.  Payment was a lollypop.  And because he got headache, the Youth Pastor sent him home on his bike while the rest of us stayed back and chill with our new friends.  The bible school students were busy preparing for lunch tomorrow.
Errrm....we use gas stove at home.  Maybe wood and fire cooks better.  And I certainly hope that the piggy will not be part of any future meals.  Love the transport system on the road....they have every kind of vehicles anyone could think of.
On the day before our departure, we decided to try their Mohinga.  The shop was closed when we arrived but host went to tell the owner that we are overseas visitors and the really nice owner open the doors again just for us. We were told that this shop sells the best Mohinga the whole of Mandalay and they normally close their business at 10am everyday.  Mine was actually made by the owner just to show the visitors how it is being made. I was given the first bowl because I looked desperate!
There wasn't much sight seeing activities to be done in Mandalay.  So we visited the central palace.  It was really empty.  I climbed up to the clock towel to take those pictures.  Looks really neat from the top but it was quite dusty and dirty inside.  Best of all, there's absolutely nothing inside their structure.  One would think that its like a museum with exhibits but there was none.  Quite disappointing.

Some of the things that caught my eyes when we were there.  I noticed Black Canyon Coffee.  Wasn't able to find Mac Donald's, KFC or Starbucks but Black Canyon???  Weird.
The little trishaw thingie was really cute.  The passenger seat faces 2 ways.  One to the front and another to the back.  Since I was in the trishaw infront of our interpretor (I took the seat facing the back because my friend had problems with moving backwards (some motion stuff) so I gladly took the backseat.  Managed to capture this :)   Passing by us was a vehicle that looked like a tuk tuk.  The friendly driver smiled for me to snap.
The carps were really hungry!!! I think this was outside one of the offices.  Can't really recall where.
On the whole, the entire Myanmar trip was an eye opener.  But Mandalay has very bad traffic.  Everyone was blasting their horns.  Doesn't even matter whether there's traffic infront of them or not.  They still horn even when the road was clear!  It wasn't very pleasant especially when a few vehicles horn together.

Clearer low-res pictures here

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